Thursday, May 27, 2010

Allosaurus, Now and Then

I completely endorse changing museum displays as knowledge changes. But it's also cool when there's a continuity between the exhibits we see now and what past generations saw. For instance, the American Museum of Natural History's Allosaurus mount, in which the Jurassic theropod preys on a fallen Apatosaurus. Compare these two photos, taken nearly a century apart.


From Volume VIII of the American Museum Journal, 1908

Allosaurus fragilis over Apatosaurus excelsus
Photo by Ryan Somma, via flickr.

Neat, huh? Finally, here's Charles M. Knight's take on the scene, one of the iconic images in the history of paleoart. You can see a second Allosaurus in the distance, standing upright in the formerly accepted theropod posture. Thanks to the fact that his supper is on the ground, this Allosaurus has a much more modern look.


Painting by Charles M. Knight, via Wikimedia Commons

I'll close with a typically wonderful piece of vintage science writing from the American Museum Journal piece the 1908 photo comes from. The writer is W.D. Matthew.
As now exhibited in the Dinosaur Hall this group gives to the imaginative observer a most vivid picture of a characteristic scene of that bygone age millions of years ago when reptiles were the lords of creation when Nature red in tooth and claw had lost none of her primitive savagery and the era of brute force and ferocity showed little sign of the gradual amelioration which was to come to pass in future through the predominance of superior intelligence.

1 comment:

  1. This has always been, without a doubt, my favorite mount of Allosaurus, and my favorite Knight piece. Great reflection on a paleo icon.

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